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Giacomo Balla, Autoritratto
Material and technique
Oil on canvas
59 x 43,5 cm
Augusta Monferini
Before he joined the Futurist movement, Giacomo Balla’s art was post-Impressionist, updated in his own, highly personal Divisionist mode. This 1902 self-portrait is a masterpiece that demonstrates the directions in which he was moving at that time. The painterly fabric is composed of fragmented, dynamic brushstrokes, sometimes streaky in the Italian style, sometimes more under the influence of French Pointillisme, but always lively and thoroughly original. The dense cross-hatching of the painting creates a fusion between the figure of the subject and the background. The line almost vanishes, absorbed into this tangle of coloured signs. Form dissolves in the muddle of impasto, which breathes and, as if fermented, pulsates under the light, whose advance animates the forms, as if grazing them from above. The figure of the subject moves, slightly oblique, into the frame, in an almost photographic way that gives the image immediacy, intensity. The bust stands out from a wall painted in large bands of colour alternating in the background, in a quivering of small splotches fused into a single, dominant tone. The eyes, though integrated into the surrounding context of painting, which assimilates them into its own magma, nevertheless stand out, thanks to the vitality of an arresting gaze fixed upon the viewer, really coming across the “screen” of the canvas, as we now say of television personalities.
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